Ch. 19 KING HARALD ‘BLUE TOOTH’S’ END

Copyright by Brian Howard Seibert

King Harald ‘Blue Tooth’ Gormson

CHAPTER NINETEEN

KING HARALD ‘BLUE TOOTH’S’ END (Circa 986 AD)

16.      “Now we are come              to the king’s high hall,

                        without mercy made            to turn the mill;

                        mud soils our feet,               frost cuts our bones;

                        at the peace-quern we drudge:     dreary is it here.

                                   Anonymous; Grottasongr, Prose Edda (Hollander)

(986)  Prince Sweyn and Emma were at the forestem of his dromon shieldship, surrounded by children, as they sailed back to Trondheim Fjord.  “Are they still focking down there?” Sweyn asked Emma.  “Like bunnies,” she answered.  “When Hallveig turned into Irpa, it terminated her pregnancy.  That’s why Thorgerder had her spare the five Jomsvikings when they pleaded for their lives.  They’re hers now.”

“She’s working them hard down there!”

“A part of Irpa still remains in her.”

“I noticed,” Sweyn said.  “She still looks like a goddess!  I hope she doesn’t fock them to death!”

“There are worse ways to go,” Emma said, hugging Sweyn’s arm.  “Hallveig told me that Thorgerder promised her five babies to replace the two of yours that she lost, one baby from each of her men.”

“That’s a nice trick if she can pull it off!”

“Quintuplets!  That’s what she said.  We only have one in here,” she said, putting Sweyn’s hand on her taut belly.  “Do you think we can add four more?  Or do you now desire Hallveig’s goddess body instead of mine?”

“Your body has been looking fairly godly with all the training you’ve been doing,” Sweyn told her, and he stepped back to study her form up and down.  “There’s another cabin in the aft, you know.  We could work on four more.”

“We can’t leave the children here on deck alone,” Emma said, disappointedly.

Sweyn looked back midships and saw Bjorn ‘the Brexit’ standing by the mast.  “Bjorn!” he shouted, “Could you come here and watch the children for us?”  Sweyn looked at Emma.  “He has children in Britain.  He’ll be fine with them.”

“I’ve got half a dozen back home,” Bjorn said, as he came up.  “They’ll be fine with me.  How long will you be gone?”

“We’ll be in the aft cabin about four hours,” Sweyn estimated, taking Emma by the hand and making a dash for the stern.

Sigvald and the Jomsvikings who left with him were very lucky when they fled south down the coast of Norway, for there was a great Hraes’ fleet that went up the coast a few days later.  Sweyn and Alfled went out onto their quay in front of their longhall and watched the Hraes’ fleet sail into Trondheim Fjord.  Three hundred and seventy Hraes’ transport warships entered the harbour before the cities of Trondheim and Lade and Sweyn watched as Valdamar ran down the quay, buttoning up his pants as he went.

“I think this is your fleet,” Sweyn said, as his son came up to them.  “I hope they aren’t cutting in on your focking time.”

“My other wives missed me while I was in Hjorungavagr,” Valdamar said, nodding to Alfled.  “I sent a message off to your grandfather when I rushed here to warn you about the Jomsvikings.  I told him to send two of your mobile legions to Norway via the Mediterranean because I didn’t want them sailing past Denmark and warning King Harald.”

“Jarl Haakon’s going to be shitting himself,” Sweyn warned Valdamar.

“He’ll know they’re Hraes’!” Valdamar said, pointing at the red and black raven banners.  “He knows he’s not under attack!”

“He’ll be shitting himself about how he’s going to feed them!”  And the princes both laughed.

“It’s only a few thousand men,” Alfled said.  “I’ll whip them up something in the scullery!”

“With the regiment I brought, it’s two full Hraes’ legions,” Valdamar explained.  “That’s twenty thousand men!”

“To the Romans or the Caliphate, it is but an expeditionary force,” Sweyn explained to his son.  “But here, in the north, it’s one big mother-focking army!”

Soon they saw horses coming from Jarl Haakon’s longhall.  It was the Jarl and Eirik and Aud and they reached the quay just as Sweyn and his group got back to shore.  Aud leapt from her horse and rushed up to Sweyn and hugged him and then Alfled.  “How am I going to feed all these men?” Haakon shouted down from his horse.

“You’re not,” Sweyn told him.  “The king of Denmark shall!”

“I don’t think King Harald’s going to feed…” and then he stopped.  “When are we going?” he asked.

“Can we feed them for a few days while they rest?” Sweyn asked.  “They’ve come a long way.”

“We can feed them as long as you wish, King Sweyn,” Jarl Haakon said, in complete respect.

When Alfled and Aud and Eirik heard Haakon address Sweyn in such respectful terms, they realized that their victory at the Battle of Hjorungavagr stood for winning much more than just a battle.  It stood for their winning a war.  They spent the rest of the day unloading horses from ships and beaching ships and blocking and levelling ships so the crews could live under their awnings.  Great quantities of food were prepared for the troops and massive amounts of fodder were gathered for the horse.  By the end of the day there were beached ships and kite shield corrals set up from Buvika and Borsa to Hell and Stjordal.  A great feast was thrown for all the Hraes’ officers of the fleet in the highseat hall of Jarl Haakon and copious quantities of beef and ale were delivered to each and every transport warship and support ship of the Hraes’ fleet.  By the end of the day ‘King’ Sweyn retired a very tired prince.

“King Sweyn, Haakon called you,” Alfled told him in bed, “and he was dead serious when he said it.”

“I didn’t want it to come to this,” Sweyn said, “but Valdamar went to great cost to bring the legions here so, we have to use them.”

“Listen to them downstairs,” Alfled said.  “Is that Katla moaning in orgasm?  She has such a sweet sound.”

“I think it’s Dagmar,” Sweyn told her.  “She has that little gasp at the end.”

“I think it’s one of those Polish girls,” Aud said, as she came up from under the sheets.  She mounted Sweyn’s steed and began her ride as Alfled watched.  “Is her ass as sweet as Eirik’s?” Alfled asked.  “Much sweeter,” Sweyn said.  “When I’m in Eirik, I always think of Aud.”

“That’s so sweet,” Aud said, and she began riding a bit harder.

“And when you’re in Aud, do you think of Eirik?” Alfled teased.

“Well, I hadn’t until you brought him up,” Sweyn complained.

Jarl Eirik was in his own longhall master suite bedroom in bed with Sveinn Buison, the blonde haired Jomsviking he had saved from death.  The young man was lying on his side with Eirik’s hard cock in his mouth and the jarl was lying opposite him with his cock in his mouth.  They pleasured each other for a long time, then Eirik rose to his knees and lifted Sveinn by the hips and entered him from behind and kept thrusting into him and he grabbed his waist for the final few thrusts before he came deep within him.  Then Eirik went down on all fours and Sveinn entered him from behind and kept thrusting into him until he came.  Eirik’s two wives had been pleasuring each other at the end of the bed but they stopped to watch Sveinn’s beautiful locks flowing as he ploughed a furrow in their husband, and when he was done they all slept together in the bed.

The next day, the troops had light duty and most of them used the day to repair their armour and their saddles and bridles.  They knew the next few days were going to consist of naval and military drills and likely a few tattoos for the locals.  Battle plans were reviewed and Hraes’ merchant ships arrived from Tonsberg in the Vik and from Denmark itself.  Nobody knew they were there.  The Hraes’ fleet of hundreds of ships had been spotted by no one.  The training exercises were kept within the fjord itself so that word did not get out.

While the training progressed, Jarl Eirik set out with Sveinn Buison and a fleet of fine Norwegian warships for Jomsborg.  They took chests of gold with them to pay the Jomsvikings to stay in Jomsborg and to lock their gates and not get involved in the upcoming royal struggle.  Eirik met with some of their leaders aboard his shieldship and he explained Prince Sweyn’s legal right to the throne that Prince Harald had ignored when he took up the crown from his father Gorm.  Surviving brothers of the dead king had legal priority over sons and that was Norse succession law.  Gorm ‘the Old’ Ivarson had been Svein ‘the Old’ Ivarson’s older brother so, when he died, regardless of Svein’s living in Kiev, or even Baghdad for that matter, Svein should have had first right of refusal of the throne and that right was not offered him.  The interim leaders of Jomsborg knew Eirik, and had heard of his great efforts in saving the lives of Jomsviking captives, some of whom were aboard Eirik’s ships and even captained some of them so, they took the gold and assured Eirik of their neutrality in this matter of succession.

Eirik and his fleet had snuck through the sound, between Denmark and Skane undetected, but it wasn’t necessary for them to try to sneak back, it wasn’t worth the risk, so, he hunkered down with his fleet on the Island of Bornholm and only Captain Vagn Akason went back to the Vik, outside Tonsberg, and Vagn went to the Hraes’ store and warehouse in the city and he proposed to Ingibjorg, the daughter of Thorkill Leira, and when she said yes, he took her there in the warehouse in a massive pile of sable pelts.  Vagn took her without asking her relatives and Vagn took her without telling her that he had killed her father, but they were in love and he wanted her and he thought it best to spare her the details.

While training progressed, Prince Sweyn travelled around Trondheim Fjord in his dromon shieldship and he visited his wives and children there.  He went to Gudrun’s farm near Borsa and, seeing that her family was doing very well, he carried Gudrun to his ship and asked her to voluntarily board it and he sailed off with her for three days of training and they made love in his captain’s cabin below deck whenever they could.  He visited his son at Jarl Kettle’s longhall in Vanvikan and he went to Hell and visited with Emma in Hallveig’s longhall there.  “Do they ever come out?” Sweyn asked Emma.  “Only to eat,” she replied. looking up at Hallveig’s second floor loft suite.  “They’ve been up there focking since they got back from Hjorungavagr.  It’s a good thing she spared very young men or they’d all be dead by now.”

“There are worse ways to die,” Sweyn said, echoing her words from before.

“I know,” she laughed, “but the thumping is driving me crazy!”

“I know exactly what you mean,” Sweyn said.  “Let’s go to your room and make some noise of our own.”

“We can’t.  Our children are in there playing.”

Sweyn looked out into the hall and he saw Bjorn ‘the Brexit’ sitting there eating.  “Bjorn!” he shouted, and the children were soon playing with Bjorn out in the hall and Sweyn and Emma were in her room making some noise of their own.  After their afternoon sex, Sweyn said, “Saved by Bjorn again.”

“I’m worried about Bjorn,” Emma said.  “I think he expected to be servicing Hallveig but all she does is fock her young warriors with her new young body.  He’s starting to look at me funny.”

“I’ll go out and send the children to you and then I’ll have a word with him,” Sweyn told her.  “Don’t hurt him,” she said as he walked out the door.

“Do you remember that one Jomsviking who wanted Thorkill Leira to execute him from the front?” Sweyn said as he passed Bjorn a cup of wine.

“I do,” Bjorn said.  “He didn’t flinch.”

“Did you see how Thorkill hacked his skull off and it rolled in the grass and Thorkill said he’d make a drinking cup of it?”

“Yeah.  And you said it was a very Bulgar thing to do.”

“Well, if you ever have sex with Emma without my permission, I will make a drinking skull cup out of your head, understand?”

“Understood,” Bjorn stammered.  “It will never happen!”

Sweyn went into Emma’s bedroom and spent some time with her and the children there.  When he got ready to leave, he gave her some gold Byzants.  “Buy gifts for the children and some things for yourself and buy Bjorn a comely little slave girl and tell him she’s from me.  Be sure and tell him I took the gold coins out of my drinking skull cup,” and then he left.

Emma didn’t know what Sweyn had said to Bjorn, but he treated her with the utmost respect afterwards and he was very pleased when she brought him home a pretty little local slave girl.  And Emma made sure he treated her with that same utmost respect.

After a week of training, Prince Sweyn and Jarl Haakon led a combined Hraes’ Norwegian fleet out of Trondheim Fjord and south down the coast of Norway.  As their vast armada approached Denmark, King Harald ‘Blue Tooth’ Gormson led a fleet of one hundred and twenty Danish warships out of Roskilde harbour and across the Kattegat to meet them.  When the king saw the size of the princely fleet, he fled with his ships through the Sound and sailed for help to Jomsborg.  Sweyn sent Jarl Haakon to give token chase with half the fleet and he took the other half into Roskilde Harbour and they occupied the city and Harald’s palace there.  Jarl Eirik’s fleet soon joined him from Bornholm.

Sweyn entered Harald’s highseat hall palace in the city and Harald’s wives sat on his highseats and he recognised Queen Gyritha of Sweden on the first highseat and Queen Consort Thora of the Obodrites upon the second highseat.  Nobody sat on the third highseat even though Sweyn had heard that Harald had numerous other wives, but perhaps they were just concubines.  Queen Gyritha pointed him over to the guest highseat, but Sweyn stood in front of her and he declared himself the new king of Denmark, King Sweyn ‘Forkbeard’ Ivarson, and Jarl Eirik of Lade came up beside him and presented his arguments of priority over Harald Gormson.  As Eirik was reciting the arguments, Sweyn stepped up to the house highseats and sat beside Gyritha.  She immediately got up and joined Thora on the second highseat.  After Eirik had presented Sweyn’s case, Sweyn announced that he would be offering the present queens their present positions on the throne should they accept Sweyn’s invitation to join him in the master bedroom of the palace second floor that night.  Any queens who did not show, would put their positions at risk of replacement by consorts, concubines and any other royals King Sweyn saw fit to replace them with.

A great victory feast was organized in the palace and Jarl Haakon returned from his token chase just before it started.  King Sweyn sat on the first highseat, Jarl Haakon on the second and Jarl Eirik and Prince Valdamar shared the third.  Danish princes and jarls vied for spots on the guest highseats and King Sweyn waved the royals off and on the six guest highseat spots until he was comfortable with the arrangement.  They feasted and celebrated late into the evening and Sweyn retired earlier to give his new brides a chance to visit him.

Sweyn made himself comfortable in Harald’s bedroom and had guards posted outside the room with orders to search and question all who wished to enter.  Sweyn had his sword ready on the headboard of the bed and he had his protection kit on the board as well.  He stripped naked and climbed into bed and a little later there was a slight tapping at the door and Sweyn gave permission for entry.  A young girl walked into the room and Sweyn recognized her as Princess Gunhilde, Queen Gyritha’s daughter.  “You said any other royals and I was wondering if princesses were included in your invitation?” she asked, shyly.

“What would your mother say?” Sweyn asked her.

“She won’t be coming here tonight,” Gunhilde answered.  “She says she won’t ever be coming here.  I thought I might try to be queen.  I’m a virgin,” she offered.

“I suspected as much,” Sweyn said, getting out of bed.  He stood naked in front of her and he started to undress her.  She was very pretty with dirty blonde hair and as he opened her dress he saw fine young breasts and a slim waist and her dress fell to the floor and she stepped her slim ivory legs out of it and stepped into Sweyn’s arms.  His member had been growing in size as he’d undressed her and it was upright and hard by the time she pressed her flat belly against it.  She was a head shorter than he was and she began kissing the nipples on his chest as he pulled her into him.  “I think you will make a fine queen,” he whispered and he lifted her up and laid her out upon the bed.

“I’ll try very hard,” she replied.

Sweyn put some towels under her and he got atop her and entered her and the blood began flowing.  He thrust his way into her and she gasped.  “Am I hurting you?” he asked.  “No,” she whispered, “I just wasn’t expecting it to be so big.”  She got comfortable and relaxed and Sweyn gently began stroking inside her.  As she became accustomed to the action he began thrusting deeper and she would gasp a little as he did so.  “I should put on protection,” he said, stopping.  She pulled him into her and said, “No.  I want to have your first baby here.”  So Sweyn resumed his thrusts and she was so perfect underneath him that he soon gushed warmly inside her.  He then rolled beside her and thrust deeply within her and he hugged her against his chest and he enjoyed her youth and her freshness for a long time.

Soon there was a gentle tapping at the door and Sweyn withdrew from young Gunhilde and he kissed her gently.  He wiped himself off with a towel and he gave permission to enter and in stepped Queen Thora and she saw Gunhilde in bed with Sweyn and she said, “Oh my.  Am I too late?”

“There is room for one more,” Sweyn said, getting out of bed.  He walked up to Thora and began undressing her.  She had long black hair that flowed onto her shoulders and as Sweyn opened up her dress he found very large breasts beneath and they reminded him of Serah’s large Khazar breasts.  “Oh my,” Sweyn said as he fully uncovered them.  As her dress fell to the floor he saw her fuller figure and he stepped into her and he kissed her and he walked her over to the bed and sat her down upon it.  He stood in front of her and his member was standing erect in front of her and she took it into her mouth and began sucking on it hungrily.  When it was hard and wet she laid back upon the bed and spread her thighs apart to receive him and Sweyn mounted her and he thrust into her and started driving into her hard and fast and she wrapped her legs around him to slow him down.  Gunhilde was under the sheets beside them, watching and learning.

Sweyn pulled Thora over on top of him and she began riding his steed and her breasts rose and fell with her hips and Gunhilde watched this with eyes wide open.  She had never seen such large breasts before and Sweyn was soon rising up to meet them and he began sucking on them, first one and then the other, until Thora began to moan in orgasm and she began riding harder as her orgasm emerged and took over her body.  Sweyn fell back and enjoyed her efforts and Gunhilde saw that Thora’s nipples were quite erect and large and she reached over to rub one and Thora moaned in delight so, Gunhilde took her nipple into her mouth and began to suck it and Thora came as Sweyn exploded inside her.  The two women collapsed on top of Sweyn and he took them into his arms, and they breathed heavily for some time.  The threesome slept together all night long.

In the morning, when Gunhilde went into the dressing room to relieve herself, Queen Thora said, “Princess Gunhilde just turned sixteen, in case you didn’t know.”

“I guessed about that,” Sweyn replied.

“Queen Gyritha is going to go crazy when she learns you’ve focked her daughter.”

“Queen Gyritha had her chance to come to my bedroom last night and she didn’t.  If she comes to me tonight, I may let her remain as queen.”

Thora laughed, and said, “Her brother is Erik the Victorious and he’s even crazier than she is.  If he finds out that you’ve deposed her, he’ll come here with a fleet and attack you.  You should keep her as your queen even if she doesn’t want to fock you.”

“I know King Erik and his wife,” Sweyn said.  “I’m not worried about him.”

“I’m going to be your practical wife,” Thora told him matter of factly.  “You should keep her as queen just to keep the peace.  King Erik is only worried about perceptions.  How would it look if his sister was deposed?  If you keep her here as queen and she won’t fock you, I’ll fock you.  Harold’s concubines will fock you.”

“I thought he had concubines,” Sweyn said.

“Queen Gyritha doesn’t know about them,” she said, then she kissed him quickly as Gunhilde came out of the dressing room.  “Shall we fock our king some more?” Thora asked Gunhilde as she crawled into bed.  “Can I ride his steed?” Gunhilde asked.  “Can she ride your steed? Thora asked Sweyn, innocently.  “Only if you wet my steed first, Queen Thora,” Sweyn answered.

Queen Thora was correct about Queen Gyritha.  When both Thora and Gunhilde shared the first highseat with Sweyn, Gyritha realized that her daughter had taken Sweyn up on his offer of other royals the night before.  She immediately began throwing spoons and trencherplates at the highseats and pretty much anything else she could lay her hands upon.  Sweyn’s guards had to physically restrain her until she calmed down.  Gunhilde was mortified.  She had never seen her mother react like that.  Thora wasn’t surprised.  She had even brought a sunshade with her on the highseat and she used it to deflect the objects Gyritha had been throwing.  It was the second time she had helped her new king.

When Queen Gyritha had fully calmed down that evening, she went to King Sweyn and she offered to remain his queen if he would no longer sleep with Gunhilde.  “I hope you used protection,” she said, and when Sweyn didn’t answer, she said, “You did use protection, didn’t you?”

“She didn’t want me to,” Sweyn said.  “She said she wanted to be the first to have babies with me.”

“She’s too young to have babies,” she said.

“You look pretty fine,” Sweyn said, eying her figure.  “How old were you when you had her?”

“That’s not the point!” she answered.  “Maybe she was on her period?  Was she bleeding at all?”

“She was,” Sweyn stated, “but I attributed it to her virginity, and I’ve focked virgins before and I’ve focked women on their periods before and I’m pretty sure it was the former.”

“She may still not be pregnant,” Gyritha grasped.  “I will remain your queen if you’ll leave Gunhilde alone.”

“Will you fock me?” Sweyn asked.

“Certainly not!” Queen Gyritha stated.

“I offered myself to all royals and your daughter offered herself to me and I accepted and we consummated the deal.  By Norse law we are now man and wife.  I don’t feel comfortable breaking that arrangement with her if you’re unwilling to give yourself in her place.”

“Okay!” Gyritha blurted.  “I’ll fock you!  I’ll be your diligent queen and tend to all your needs!”

“Okay.  I’ll leave her alone,” Sweyn said, “but if she’s already pregnant, she’s still my wife and we’ll all have the baby together.  I could never let her down like that.”

Queen Gyritha thought about it and she decided to roll the dice.  She would do anything to protect her daughter if she wasn’t pregnant yet.  “You have a deal,” she said.

“You’ll sleep with Queen Thora and me tonight?” he said.

“Queen Thora?  Together?”

“That’s what Gunhilde and I did last night.  We slept with Queen Thora.”

“You didn’t let her see you focking that Polish cunt, did you?”

“No.  She was in the dressing room when we did it,” Sweyn lied.  There were too many objects in the room that could be thrown to warrant the truth being told.

“Then Thora can wait in the dressing room while we fock and vice versa.”

“You speak Latin?” Sweyn asked her.  “I’m impressed!”  When she looked at him questioningly, he said, “Vice versa is Latin.”

“I don’t speak Latin,” she said.  “Vice versa is just a saying here.  Only our Christian priests speak Latin and they just repeat memorized phrases.  I don’t think anybody speaks Latin anymore.”

“The Roman Emperors still do and I’ve learned it as well,” Sweyn said.

“So, is that your plan?” Gyritha laughed.  “Now that you have gone from prince to king, your next step is to be a Roman Emperor?”

“Exactly!  Now where were we?”

“You’re serious,” she said.  “You’re really going to be a Roman Emperor?”

“Actually, a co-Emperor,” Sweyn told her and he could see that she was very impressed.

“What’s your favourite Latin saying?” she asked.

“Caveat emptor,” he told her.

“Meaning?”

“Seize the day!”

“That’s certainly you,” she told him.

“Now, where were we?”

“We were discussing Thora’s staying in the dressing room while we focked and vice versa.”

“Right!  You’re not a tender youth like Gunhilde.  If you don’t want to watch me focking Thora, don’t watch.  And if she wants to watch, so be it.  And that goes for my other wives as well. 

“There’ll be other wives?” she blurted.

“I have wives in Lade and Kiev and Gardariki,” he said.  “But that’s the deal!”  Gyritha hummed and hawed for a bit so, Sweyn added, “I don’t think you realize what you’re asking me to give up here.  Gunhilde is a very beautiful young girl, with the sweetest honey well I’ve ever tasted and…”

“Okay! Okay!  I accept your deal!”

So, Queen Gyritha joined King Sweyn and Queen Thora in bed that evening, but not before Sweyn told Gunhilde that he was going to have to let her alone for a bit until she showed signs of pregnancy because her mother had decided to be his queen as well.

That night, when Queen Gyritha joined Sweyn and Thora in their nuptial bed, she slipped in naked between the sheets, spread her legs and allowed Sweyn to enter her and thrust within her but she did not engage in the process so, Sweyn focked her and came inside her then rolled off her and began kissing Thora and she responded to his advances with ardour.  The next morning, when Gyritha was relieving herself in the dressing room, Queen Thora said, “I’m going to be your wise queen and suggest you be patient with her.”

“You told me you were going to be my practical queen,” Sweyn said to her.

“I’ve decided to put more effort into it.  It is far harder to be wise than practical.”

“I shall follow your advice,” Sweyn assured her, “but only because you put so much effort into last night.”

The next day, Gunhilde had words with her mother, and said, “I gave myself to King Sweyn because you told me you would never sleep with him and I didn’t want the throne to slip out of our family’s grasp.  Now you’ve decided to sleep with him and now I’m left out in the cold!”

“I slept with him to get you away from him,” Gyritha said, trying to console her crying daughter.

“I love him and you won’t keep me from him for long!  He’ll soon want me over you when I give him his first baby here!”

That night, Queen Gyritha undressed herself in front of Sweyn and Thora and joined them in bed and took Sweyn’s erect member into her mouth and began sucking on it until it was moist and she then mounted Sweyn’s steed and rode him until she came and he exploded within her.  Thora did likewise and the women slept on either side of Sweyn, each tucked under an arm.

While all this was going on, Prince Valdamar had kept himself busy sampling Danish Princesses from Zealand, Fyn, and Jutland.  He married a princess from each of the three Danish provinces and was busy with them in his own wing of the palace.  And the prince and his three new wives seldom ventured out from their wing of the great hall.  When they all finally came out, Prince Valdamar introduced them to King Sweyn and Queens Gyritha and Thora, saying, “This is Princess Sigrun of Zealand, Princess Freja of Fyn and Princess Jorun of Jutland.”  And the queens all marvelled at the youth and beauty of the Danish royals and told Valdamar they were happy that he was so accepting of the local princesses.  When the Hraes’ merchant ships began arriving in Roskilde harbour for the spring trading cycle, Prince Valdamar went through the slaveships inspecting and testing captive princesses from Angleland, Ireland, Britany and Frisia and he bought a princess from each of those kingdoms.

Word arrived in Roskilde that Jarls Haakon and Eirik had pursued and trapped King Harald’s war fleet up a Fjord on the Island of Jom opposite the city and fortress of Jomsborg so, the rest of the Hraes’ fleet was requested to assist in an assault upon the Danes.  The news also arrived at the estate of Sigvald in southern Zealand and he put together a Danish Jomsviking fleet of veterans to go to the aid of Jomsborg and they sailed to Wendland right away.  Sigvald and his fleet arrived at the Island of Jom that evening and they saw the great fleet of Jarl Haakon anchored just outside a fjord and he could see that there were a great number of ships hemmed in the fjord so, he knew it must be the warships of King Harald.  He sailed north out of sight of the Norwegian fleet and then southeast until he came upon land, a ridge he knew beyond which the fjord sat.  His fleet anchored off the coast while Sigvald and a small scout party headed inland towards King Harald’s fleet and when they were almost upon the fjord Sigvald signalled for his men to stop and he advanced alone upon a clearing and he saw a small camp of soldiers and they were cooking food around a campfire and then Sigvald saw King Harald standing in the distance drinking out of an ale horn.

Sigvald signalled for his men to keep back out of sight and he advanced alone and knelt down at the edge of the clearing and took his bow and put an arrow on the string.  He licked a finger and tested the wind and he then took his shot.  The arrow arced upwards and across the clearing and came down between King Harald’s shoulders and the Danish royal pitched forward and died on the ground before the campfire.  Sigvald returned to his men and he led them back to their ships.  “I don’t think we can help King Harald here,” Sigvald said to his men and he told them they would go to Jomsborg and see if their comrades there needed any help.

When King Sweyn arrived with his half of the Hraes’ fleet he joined up with Jarl Haakon’s Hraes’ and Norwegian fleet and they slept on their ships and prepared for battle the next morning.  As they formed up their numerous ships, a small warship sailed out from the Danish fleet with a white shield hanging from the top of its mast.  “The Danish naval officers approached and told King Sweyn and Jarl’s Haakon and Eirik that King Harald was dead and that the Danish forces were ready to swear allegiance to their new king.  King Sweyn accepted their oaths and he and the jarls went to see the body of Harald and hear the story of his death.  Harald was lying dead upon a camp bed and the arrow had been removed from his back and was now lying across his chest.  Sweyn had Harald stripped of his armour and he kept it along with the gilt arrow and he put them in the cabin of his dromon shieldship and he then took a black leather bag out of one of his sea chests.  He wanted to find out who had murdered his nephew and he had seen the markings of that arrow before, in Hjorungavagr, and he thought it might be Jomsviking markings.

King Sweyn had Harald’s body brought to the head of the fjord and he had ships carpenters build a wooden casket for Harald and then he gave a speech to the warriors gathered about:  “My nephew, Harald ‘Blue Tooth’ Gormson has been murdered by an assassin and I plan to find and punish this archer, but Harald’s death shall not allow him to escape his own punishment.  He sent Jomsvikings to Norway to kill me and Jarl Haakon and his people.  We defeated the Jomsvikings at the Battle of Hjorungavagr and many of our captives were beheaded in punishment.  Even though dead, Harald must be punished with beheading as well.  Is there any man here who wishes to do this deed?”

Jarl Haakon stepped forward and said, “I would like to do it!”

King Sweyn pulled Harald’s body down the camp cot until the head hung over the end of it.  Jarl Haakon pulled out his sword and struck Harald’s head from his body and it fell onto the sand of the beach.  Sweyn picked the head up and put it between Harald’s feet at the other end of the cot.  Sweyn and Eirik then carried the cot inland to where a grave had been dug and a coffin had been built.  Sweyn and Eirik lifted Harald’s body into the casket and Sweyn placed Harald’s head just above the shoulders and said, “I would like to have a few moments alone with my nephew and then I will nail the coffin shut, as is our Hraes’ custom.  He said a few words over Harald and then took a hammer and some nails out of a little black tool bag he had with him and he fumbled with the bag, looking for a few more nails and he put the bag in the casket and dug out a few more yet and he lifted the casket lid onto the casket and was about to start nailing it shut when a man yelled out, “You’ve left your tool bag in the coffin!”  Sweyn took the bag out of the coffin, nodding thanks to the man who had shouted, and he nailed the coffin shut.

A Christian priest had been found from among those of the Danish fleet and they gave Harald ‘Blue Tooth’ Gormson a very respectful Christian burial at the head of the fjord.  Sweyn didn’t want him returned to Denmark for burial, because he, himself, was now focking all of Harald’s wives, and daughter, and he didn’t want any of that to change.  Years later, a small stone Christian church was built over King Harald’s grave on the Island of Jom.

When the fleet returned to Denmark, they had to beach a lot of their ships on the coast of the harbour town that served the city of Liere because Roskilde harbour was filling up with merchant ships getting ready for the spring sailing for Kiev and parts beyond.  It was late when Sweyn got back to the city of Roskilde and his new palace there, and Princess Gunhilde was waiting for him at the entrance and she told him she was pregnant and he made her a queen consort on the spot.  His queens had already retired to the master bedroom awaiting his arrival so, he walked in with Gunhilde and he told Gyritha and Thora the good news and he began undressing Gunhilde in front of her mother.  When Gyritha began to protest he patted Gunhilde on the ass and sent her to bed and had Gyritha come out from under the sheets naked and he had her undress himself.  He took Gyritha in the bed and then he took her daughter and finally he took Thora and then they all slept together.

It seemed quite strange to Gyritha to share a lover with her daughter, but Gunhilde loved it and Thora did not find it strange at all.  Sweyn knew, that at that very moment, there were slaveships out in Roskilde harbour that had mother and daughter captives that would be sold together as concubine pairs in Baghdad and Constantinople, and a good looking mother such as Gyritha paired with a beautiful virgin daughter such as Gunhilde would sell in the slave markets for triple their value as they’d sell for apart.  A good looking mother with two or three beautiful virgin daughters would sell for four or five times their value apart.  But they had to look alike or it would be too easy to just put pairs together.  The slavers and their armies had become sophisticated enough to capture whole villages at a time and mothers and their daughters were kept together and protected from rape and ravishing for the higher profits they would command in the markets.  Mothers without daughters took the brunt of that shortfall and became comfort women for the slavers on the long journey east and their nights under the awnings of slaver ships could be sexually challenging.

Prince Valdamar was tasked with leading the merchant fleet east and then south to Kiev, where Princess Serah would meet them to collect the tithe fees and issue the trade permits.  King Sweyn would meet them there because he needed more time to put his new kingdom in order.  Princess Alfled had arrived in Roskilde from Lade with the Norwegian merchant fleet that used the Dan’Way rather than the Nor’Way, and Sweyn wanted to make her a queen consort of Denmark as well before he headed off to Constantinople for trade.  He loved Alfled and he trusted her.  Normally he would have led the Baghdad trading fleet, but he had a little matter of a claim on a co-Emperorship in Constantinople to address with the Roman Emperors there so, that was the group he planned to lead.

King Sweyn and Prince Valdamar led the Christian merchant fleet to Constantinople and Prince Valdamar brought two of Sweyn’s mobile legions with him and he waited with his fleet of four hundred warships outside the Golden Horn harbour while his father presented his claim for the co-Emperorship to Emperors Basil the Second and Constantine the Eighth.  He showed them the contract that Emperor John Tzimiskes had signed with him after the Battle of Dorostolon in 972 and he showed them his new Royal Seal of Denmark and his crown and then he said, “I also remembered the Roman need for Tzar Peter’s head to prove that he was actually dead,” and Sweyn put a black leather bag on a side-table of the Roman throne room and he took out the head of King Harald ‘Blue Tooth’ Gormson and he set it on the tabletop.  “And, as you can see,” he pointed out and lifted up a lip, “there is his blue tooth.”

“That contract was drawn up fourteen years ago!” Emperor Basil said.  “I’m not saying it’s no longer valid.  I’m just saying we shall need some time to go through all this.”  Emperor Constantine said something to Basil and they had a little discussion while King Sweyn waited.  “Co-Emperor Constantine has come up with an idea you might be interested in while we go through it all.  We noticed you brought your famed mobile legions with you and we were wondering if you might be interested in putting down a revolt in Anatolia for us over the summer and we can discuss your claim when the trading season is near its end.  It is rumoured that your nemesis, General Bardas Skleros is gathering up an army of rebellion in the east with the support of the Caliphate.  Our armies are still fighting the Arabs in the Levant and I shall be leading an army against the Bulgarians this summer, so, if you could take your legions to Anatolia and put down this revolt, it would be appreciated and would work towards a favourable decision on your co-Emperorship.  I’ve noticed that the contract you have provided us with has a clause committing you to support Rome in defence against enemies, as does your treaty of 945.  For this assistance we could pay you ten thousand pounds of gold.”

“We would need twenty thousand pounds of gold.  We have two full Hraes’ legions with us, the equivalent of four of your Roman legions.”

“Can we split the difference?” Emperor Constantine suggested.

“Done,” said King Sweyn.  He put Harald’s head back into the black leather bag and he told them, “You can keep the contract documents for your perusal.  They are just copies.”

“Great!” Emperor Basil said.  “I’m not sure I’d know where to look for our copy.  I’m sure it can be found, but Emperor Tzimiskes was a general, not an administrator.  I only knew about your Treaty of 945 commitment because we had to memorize the treaty in school when I was a child.”

“He was a great general,” Sweyn said.  “Like Emperor Nicephorus before him.  You both look a lot like your grandfather, Emperor Constantine the Seventh.  My mother loved him.”  Sweyn then realized he was starting to sound a lot like his own grandfather and he suddenly felt old.

“Some of our officers shall meet you on our main quay in the Horn and they’ll have your contract and your gold for you, and they’ll go with you to Anatolia.”

“The red gold of Byzantium?” Sweyn said.

“The red gold of Byzantium,” both Emperors repeated.

When King Sweyn told Prince Valdamar about the new contract, he responded by saying, “Isn’t that what the Romans did to you last time?  They offered you a contract and gold and then they didn’t give you your co-Emperorship?”

“I know,” said Sweyn, “but it’s fifteen thousand pounds of gold we can make over the summer and we can always kill Romans in the fall if they don’t deliver.  And I’d rather kill Romans after the trading season ends, not before.”

King Sweyn made sure his traders were all set up and selling slaves and furs satisfactorily before setting off with his legions up the Halys River for eastern Anatolia.  Four hundred ships and two mobile legions sailed up the Roman river and portaged across to the Euphrates River and then portaged across to the Araks River and sailed up and down it, but could find no rebellions breaking out anywhere.  Near the end of August, the month named after Augustus Caesar, the originator of the purple blood of the Roman Emperors, King Sweyn learned that Emperor Basil had suffered a catastrophic defeat in his war against the Balkan Bulgars.  His whole army of twenty thousand men, four legions, had been slaughtered and the Emperor had escaped with his life thanks to the efforts of an elite Armenian regiment that had fought its way out of the Bulgarian ambush.  King Sweyn and Prince Valdamar had been working their way back to Constantinople because the trading season was winding down and they had just left the Halys and were at Sinope, at their Hraes’ trading store there, when they heard the news.  They took their fleet back to Constantinople and sailed past the city and went on to Macedonia and sailed up the Maritsa River to Adrianople and halted the Bulgarian advance on Thrace.  Just the rumour that Prince Svein and the Hraes’ were coming was enough to halt them in their tracks.  They had fought against the Hraes and their prince fifteen years earlier and had lost and were just now recovering territories that Prince Sveinald ‘Sviatoslav the Brave’ had taken from them in fifteen weeks.  They did not want to mix it up with the Hraes’.  Their veterans still talked about the kite shields of the mobile legions and the round shields of their beautiful Valkyries and the horned helmets they had worn to win the Battle of the Impalers in Wallachia.  The Bulgarians decided to consolidate their regained territories in the northeast instead.  The Roman officers and Roman regiments and most of the Roman gear that had accompanied them in Anatolia were let off in Adrianople to bolster the area’s defence capabilities, then Sweyn and Valdamar took their Hraes’ legions to Constantinople.

“Emperor John shouldn’t have turned on me in Bulgaria,” King Sweyn told the two sons of Emperor Romanos, co-Emperors Basil and Constantine.  “Had he made me co-Emperor instead, I’d still be in Pereslavet with the Bulgars and Romanians under my thumb.  Now the Bulgarians are on the loose.”

“Thank you for saving Adrianople,” Emperor Basil said.  “My whole army fled and I was lucky to make it out of Bulgaria alive.”

“We couldn’t find any rebellion going on in Anatolia,” Sweyn told them.  “There was plenty of talk of rebellion, but nothing we could act upon.  Bardas Skleros is still in Baghdad, but my spies in the Caliphate have confirmed he has garnered the support of the Buyid dynasty there.  Nothing can be done until he comes across the frontier with his forces, however, we consider the contract fulfilled now and would like our red gold purified before we head back to Kiev.”

“That won’t be possible,” Basil said.  “The contract said that a rebellion was to be put down.”

“The contract was limited to the summer trading season and there was no rebellion to put down.  It was your bad intel, not mine.”

“Still, you lost zero men and I’ve just lost twenty thousand.”

“That’s not my problem.  It cost a lot of gold to have two full legions traipsing across Anatolia all summer and, had I found Bardas Skleros and his rebels, we would have defeated them without losing many men and we’d have his booty and the gold in his baggage train.”

“Still,” Basil repeated.  “You’ll have to try again next year.”

“Fine!” Sweyn said.  “We’ll try again next summer, but you’ll have to purify the gold whether we find rebels or not.”

“That sounds more than fair,” Emperor Basil said, smiling politely.

Once Prince Valdamar got out to the Golden Horn harbour, he laid into his father, “We can’t run two legions all over Anatolia next summer for free!  You’re letting these Romans run roughshod over you!  We need that gold purified.”

“No, we don’t,” Sweyn told him.  “Your grandfather’s already figured out how they purify the gold.  He can do it for us in Tmutorokan.  We just don’t want them to know we’ve figured it out.  That’s why we always get Magistros Kalokyras in Cherson to come and clean it for us.  Besides, they do it for us for free as part of the contract, but we don’t need them to do it for us.”

“Oh,” Valdamar breathed.  “I should have known grandfather would have that figured out.”

“But we are going to visit with my old friend Kalokyras,” Sweyn told his son.  “We’re going to take Cherson!”

“Now you’re talking!” Valdamar said, excitedly.

“Emperor Basil has no intention of making me a co-Emperor, ever!  Constantine is a co-Emperor in name only.  Basil rules the roost there and he knows he’ll have to share control if I get there.  So, we’ll take Cherson and use it as a bargaining tool.”

“When should we start?”

“Just as soon as we get all our traders out of Constantinople.  We’ll have to let our people know that nobody overwinters in Constantinople this year.  And we’ll have to do it quietly.  I’ll take the merchant fleet back through Kiev, while you take the two legions and attack Cherson.  If you catch them by surprise, you may be able to ride your cavalry right through their gates.  I kept some of the Roman gear our allies had on our ships when we let them off at Adrianople.  Not enough to arouse suspicion, but enough to dress the front ranks in.”

When they took the merchant fleet out of Constantinople and across the Black Sea, they met Prince Hraerik and the Baghdad fleet in front of the Cherson peninsula and Sweyn and Valdamar went through their attack plan with him.

“As long as you take Cherson by Yuletide,” Hraerik told them.  “That will give us enough time to strike a deal with them before the next trading season starts.  I don’t want Roman trade shut down for years like it was last time.”

“That was fifteen years ago,” Sweyn said.  “The Armenians are out of power in Rome now.”

“I heard it was an elite Armenian regiment that saved Basil’s ass in Bulgaria!” Hraerik said.  “Do you really think Basil was bright enough to have an elite Armenian regiment nearby to help him out while he focked up the whole battle?”

“Those focking Armenians!” Sweyn spat.

“Some Armenian general is looking after him.  Probably setting himself up for a co-Emperorship of his own.  You’re right in thinking Basil will never share rule with you.  The Armenians are working on him as we speak.”

“You’ve got the best spies in Constantinople!” Valdamar said.

“Mine have just been there the longest.  They’ve seen all your spies come,” he said, looking at Sweyn, “and they’ve seen yours too, Valdamar,” Hraerik said, looking over at his great grandson.  “It’s the old give him enough rope and he’ll hang himself and we’ll save his ass with our elite Armenian regiment trick.  Now Basil owes some Armenian general his ass.”

“Focking Armenians!” Sweyn said again.  “They’ve got the best spies!”

“They are the spies,” Valdamar said.  “Every Armenian in Constantinople is part of their spy network, whether they know it or not.”

“Even Empress Theophano!” Sweyn said.  “Emperor John was keeping her for some sex on the side, but Svia learned that as soon as he was dead, her fellow Armenians sent her off to be a Roman princess for some old German king or other.  The Holy Roman Emperor in Aachen wanted a Roman princess who was Porphyrogennetos, you know, born of the purple with the blood of Augustus Caesar running through her veins so she could give him little Caesar babies, but they didn’t want to give him one because he would then claim to be the true new Rome, so they gave him Empress Theophano instead.  I mean, she focked an Emperor who was born of the purple and she gave birth to two sons who have the blood of the Emperors flowing through their veins, but, really, she doesn’t have a lick of Roman blood flowing through her honey well.  Just the hot sexy blood of an Armenian whore.  So, now she’s stuck in Aachen humping some old German Kaiser wanna be.”

“You sound like you’ve spent some time in Lade,” Hraerik said.  “There’s something in the focking water there.”

“I knew it was the focking water!” Sweyn said.

“I like your plan,” Prince Hraerik told his grandsons.  “Now is the time to do it.  Basil has a war still going on in the Levant, and now Bulgarians wanting to tear a strip off of him and soon he’ll have an old Armenian friend of ours starting a rebellion in Anatolia.  If you take Cherson now, he’ll want to deal and get that wrapped up as soon as possible.”

“Was it your spies that warned Emperor Basil about General Bardas Skleros and his rebellion?” Sweyn asked his grandfather.

“I have good spies in Constantinople,” Hraerik admitted, “but I have great spies in Baghdad.  Read your manual.  It’s all in General Sun Tsu Wu’s ‘Art of War’.”

As usual, thousands of ships of the merchant fleet of the Hraes’ gathered off Cherson and most sailed north for Kiev and a small contingent sailed east for Tmutorokan, but, once out of sight from land, the four hundred transport warships of the Hraes’ legions beached across the bay from the city of the Romans and, within thirty minutes a full regiment of horse set off south towards the fortress.  Some of them wore Roman cavalry uniforms and carried Roman legionary standards.

Magistrate Kalokyras had just been recalled from duty in Italy to ensure that Cherson was safeguarded from rebellion.  When officers came and warned him of the approach of an unexpected cavalry regiment he went to the walls of the city and watched their movements.  It was a Roman regiment and they bore the standards of a unit from Constantinople, but he had the feeling that he had seen this somewhere before.  And then he remembered Wallachia and he fought off the urge to shit himself.  “Lock up all the gates!” he ordered.  “Those may not be Romans!”  He remembered the Hraes’ cavalry as they sailed up the Olt River on their way to Ramnic Valcea and their skill at deception.  ‘It’s Prince Sveinald,’ he thought, and then he did shit himself.

Prince Valdamar led his cavalry force and he wore the colours of Rome, as did his men, but the east gates of the city were closed as were the south and west gates as they circumvented the walls.  The young prince led his men back to the east gate and he saw the face of a man upon the gate tower and he recognized it from his youth in Tmutorokan.  It was the countenance of Magistrate Kalokyras of Cherson.  Valdamar took a small group of his men, the ones who wore Roman gear, and they rode to the gate and shouted to be let in.  “Magistrate Kalokyras!” Valdamar shouted.  “We followed behind the Hraes’ merchant fleet from Constantinople and we bear an urgent message from Emperor Basil!”

“I recognize your standards,” Kalokyras shouted back, “but I see kite shields in your rearward forces.”

“Many of our regiments now carry kite shields,” Valdamar answered.

“But your regiment has not yet been issued kite shields,” Kalokyras shouted.  “All the new kite shields have gone to our Italian regiments.”

“Emperor Basil shall hear of this!” Valdamar bluffed.

“Emperor Basil is the one who ordered me back here from Italy!”  He was now certain he was dealing with Hraes’ cavalry officers, but he did not recognize the young man before him.  “You tell Prince Sveinald that he is welcome as a guest and we’ll share wine together should he care to visit.”

“The message is urgent!” Valdamar declared.  When the gates remained closed, he led his men away.  They returned to the fleet and set up camp.  The Greek citizens of the peninsula soon began streaming into the fortress city for safety.  “We should stop them,” the Hraes’ officers protested.  “It’s going to be a siege,” the prince replied.  “The more that make it into the city, the faster they shall go through their supplies.  We have a schedule to follow.  Only supply trains are to be stopped.”  Cavalry units occupied the surrounding hill tops and watched for wains and wagons, but they did not interfere with civilian movements.

When King Sweyn arrived in Kiev, Princess Serah was there to help him collect tithes and duties.  They worked together days and spent their nights going through the Kama Sutra of Vatsayaya and Serah amused herself by stroking Sweyn’s lingam and watching it erupt.  She fine tuned his orgasms and experimented with the sensuality of sounds.  After a week, Sweyn followed the merchant fleet up the Dnieper and he went to Chernigov to ask Princess Svia to move with him to Denmark.  “You shall be my primary queen there,” he told her.

“I don’t want to move to some backwater country like Denmark,” she replied.  “What of your co-Emperorship in Constantinople.  Emperors Basil and Constantine are contractually bound to honour you with the position.”

“Some Armenian general is focking it up for me again!” Sweyn said.

“Those focking Armenians!” Svia cursed.  She had given up being an Armenian when her own family line had sent her to a convent to be raped by priests and bishops.  But she really hated what they had done to her cousin, Empress Theophano, passing her off as Porphyrogennetos to the German emperor in Aachen, and then abandoning her there when the Germans realized that they’d been conned.  She had to fock the German emperor’s ass off to keep her position there, but at least she had managed to contact Svia and they had worked through their differences.

“Will you come with me?” he asked.

“I’ll be queen?  Not a queen consort?”

“Yes!” Sweyn told her.  “I’ll make Queen Gyritha a queen consort with Thora and Gunhilde and Malfried.”

“Princess Malfried is coming?”

“Is that okay with you?”

“Well, yes, of course,” Svia said.  “At least there’ll be someone there I know and love.”

“Besides me,” Sweyn said.

“Yes, of course,” she responded.  “Besides you.”

It took several days for the servants to pack up Princess Sviataslava’s belongings and Sweyn and Svia and Sviatopolk spent the days together supervising the move and Sweyn and Svia spent the nights together making love.  Sweyn remembered when he’d first seen Svia in Ramnic and he saved her from Count Vlad and he took her to his pavilion and they made love together for the first time.  “She’s mine!” he had told his grandfather and finally they were together alone for a few days.  Then they sailed up the Dnieper for a few days and caught up with the rest of the fleet at the Smolensk Surazh portage.  His small fleet of warships took priority and he passed by all the waiting Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Norman, Anglish, Irish and Icelandic merchant ships.  They paid the portage to the Lovat River and met Princess Malfrieda in Novgorod.

“Will you come to Denmark with me and be my queen consort?” Sweyn asked her.  

“I’d come to Hell with you and be your queen consort,” Malfrieda told him.

“We’ve been to Hell together,” Sweyn replied.  “It’s a shithole village hardly worthy of a princess, let alone a queen such as yourself.”

“Is it okay with you, Princess Svia?” Malfrieda asked.

“As long as I get to be queen,” she replied.

Their small fleet sailed down the Volkov River to Lake Ladoga and then down the Neva River to the Gulf of Finland and they crossed the Baltic Sea to Sweden.  Sweyn stopped in at Birka and Uppsala, as usual, to visit with his friends, King Eric the Victorious and Queen Sigrid of Sweden and he came bearing gifts and as he passed out the presents he announced that he was the new king of Denmark.  They had, of course, already heard this news as Queen Gyritha of Denmark was Eric’s sister, but they congratulated Sweyn as though they had not known.  “How did King Harald die?” King Eric asked.

“He was shot in the back with an arrow by one of the Jomsvikings he had hired to kill Jarl Haakon,” Sweyn told him. 

“I’d heard that King Harald hired the Jomsvikings to kill you,” King Eric said, bluntly.

“That may be,” Sweyn replied, “but I prefer to think more highly of my nephew until we find out whose markings were on the arrow.  Then we can ask the Jomsviking who killed him.”

Queen Sigrid was talking with the princesses while Sweyn and Eric went off alone to discuss matters.  “My sister will, of course, remain your queen,” King Eric told Sweyn.  All others are to be queen consorts, even King Harald’s daughter, Gunhilde.”

“And if I decide otherwise?” Sweyn asked.

“Then I shall visit you with my warfleet,” Eric warned.

King Sweyn took it as more of a warning than a threat and purchased his usual pure iron for the smithies of Hraegunarstead and a double order of tonstone for his trebuchets and he took them aboard his small warfleet.

When Sweyn and his wives got to Roskilde, Sweyn introduced them to his new wives as Queen Sviataslava and Queen Consort Malfrieda, and Queen Consort Gyritha stormed out of the great hall, for there could only be one queen.  Gyritha had been worried that Sweyn was going to make young Gunhilde his queen because she had already provided the new king with baby Svein, but he had promoted a Roman princess to the position instead.  A foreign princess who wasn’t even Norse. When King Sweyn joined his wives in bed, he noticed that Gyritha was missing.  The next day, he reminded her that they had made an agreement together and that it did not guarantee her priority.  She joined his many wives in bed the next evening and Aud joined them as well the evening after.  Sweyn spent two weeks with his wives and then had to return to Kiev and Cherson to see how the attack had gone.  He spent a few days in Kiev with Princess Serah where he learned that a quick victory had not been attained and once back in Cherson he saw that Prince Valdamar had the city under siege.